A few years ago now I bought a battered old book printed in the late 17th century and entitled as a History of the Bible, covered in writing from several ancient owners and – a pleasant surprise when it arrived in the post – full to the brim with over 200 engravings and maps.
The remains of the binding are the original paneled calf, and I’m yet to start on restoring that, but I have been busy restoring several of its pages and engravings – and one of the large maps – within the book, so allow me to blog upon it for a while!
The map was completely ruined – It had been sat loosely in the front of the book for a very long time. It was folded and tattered, with tears and holes, and much of the paper beginning to feel very delicate indeed.
About a week of pressing, washing, and carefully repairing the map it was together one more.
Some of the paper was stretched enough that it wouldn’t lie completely flat even after the work was done on it, although most of it tied together neatly.
While restoring the plates, though, I discovered that of the few that were loose from the binding the fault did not lie with age and decay! In fact, about six of the plates had never been sewn in, just put in place and then perhaps forgotten about by the binder.
After some reflection upon it, I decided that it was safest for the purpose of keeping the plates with the binding that they should at last be sewn in – I have far too many books were unkind hands have taken out the plates for framing, and I had no desire to make this temptation even easier.
And it was while I was sewing in these engravings that I had one particular surprise:
It was a little seventeenth century pin that had at one time pinned the page in place – perhaps the work of the original bookbinder himself, holding the engraving in place for sewing but for some reason never finishing his task!
Until next time, Dearest Reader!